The Investigators: How to keep your online passwords secure - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: How to keep your online passwords secure

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MEMPHIS, TN -

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV/WXIX-TV) - How secure are your email or online banking accounts?

You've probably put a pretty good password on them to keep them safe, but it doesn't take much to reset those passwords.

Thanks to information you post on Facebook, those secret questions you use to reset your passwords may not be much of a secret at all.

With each little fact you put online about yourself, you open a door to identity thieves. 

George Samuel Bronk, 23, is now in a California jail after he hacked into the e-mail accounts or hundreds of women. Once he was in, he went through their sent boxes looking for nude or embarrassing pictures they had taken of themselves to send to their husbands or boyfriends.

While he was in their account, he locked them out, and in the cases where he could, he posted those nude pictures on their Facebook pages as well.

One of his victims likened what happened to her to virtual rape.

What he did could easily happen to you, if you've put enough information on your Facebook page to give someone access to your e-mail.

Think about the information you have on Facebook - your hometown or your pets name. Do you have where you went to high school or elementary school?

Each one of these things is a key to your email account or even your bank account.

When you set up a Gmail account or a Yahoo account, or when you set up your online banking, you have to put in certain security questions, such as your pets name, your mother's maiden name, or where you wen to high school. Those security questions are supposed to be private information that only you would know.

If you have to change your password, you verify your identity by answering these questions.   If you have laid out your entire identity online, just by going through your online profile, a hacker can many times get enough info to get into your accounts and lock you out.

"By default when you sign into Facebook there is no security, you have to tighten it down to prevent people and limit people's access to your site," said IT specialist Bob Kroeger. "If you post not only your pictures but your wife's picture, your kids' picture, I've got pictures of your whole family. I've got hair color, eye color other questions that people ask, I might know your dog's name."

Limiting info on your page may not be enough.

"If you make your mom a friend and you have conversations on there and I come check out your site, I see that your mom is a friend of yours, even if it is not obvious," said Kroeger. "If I watch long enough, I figure out she is your mom. I go check out her site and her brother might be her friend and now I've got your mother's maiden name."

So what can you do to protect your identity?

"A lot of times you can pick your own questions," said Kroger. "Pick a question that has nothing that anybody knows pick a question a question that a friend a family member would not bring up in daily conversation that you have on Facebook."

If you are limited to only certain questions, Kroeger says to lie.

"Come up with a standard answer to those questions that you always use and you know you always use but nobody else will know," he said.

Kroeger says because Facebook accounts are linked to email accounts, you should open one email account strictly for Facebook, so that in the event you do get hacked, the hacker won't be able to access multiple accounts.

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